Butch Jones talked to the media on Monday, highlighting notes from the team including injuries, starting lineup updates and logistics for this weekend’s game.
Here were the highlights from Jones’ comments.
Tennessee got some good news on its three banged up receivers. Latrell Williams, Tyler Byrd and Josh Smith will all be back in action this weekend against the Gators.
Coach Jones said that Smith could have played on Saturday against Indiana State, but that they decided to save him for the Florida game.
Eli Wolf, Evan Berry, Marcus Tatum, Baylen Buchanan and Austin Smith are all still considered questionable. Wolf’s injury won’t require surgery, as Jones said that he only has a sprained ankle.
Defensive Line Rotation
There was a lot of talk about the defensive line on Monday. In fact, the Vols’ light rotation on the defensive front was one of the first questions that Jones addressed.
“It’s been a challenge to evaluate everything defensively,” Jones said. “What you an evaluate is the fundamentals, the effort and the details…we have to get better in a hurry. They understand the level of competition is going up.”
Tennessee’s defensive line has only managed one sack in two games. And that belonged to freshman Deandre Johnson late in last week’s win.
“Indiana State threw three drop back passes,” Jones said. “This is a line of scrimmage league, and it all starts with impacting the quarterback. So many things that go into it…it’s more than just sacks.”
Jones added that Johnson and Matthew Butler are both “closer” to joining the rotation more regularly.
“You earn your playing time through your body of work. Those two young men are going to be very good football players. I like what I saw.”
No More -OR-
Jarrett Guarantano and Quinten Dormady are no longer co-starters at the quarterback position.
Dormady is now officially Tennessee’s quarterback, but Jones still needs more production from his starter.
“We need to involve him more in the run game. All we need him to do is be efficient…The evolution on run-pass options, you can put his legs into his arms so to speak. I think that has kind of changed the dynamics in terms of not playing with a running quarterback,” Jones said.
As far as Guarantano, Jones still liked what he saw on Saturday against Indiana State.
“I love his approach to practice. He competes everyday. There’s no substitute for live game repetitions. He did a really good job standing in the pocket and being able to deliver the ball. The more game repetitions he gets, the better he’s going to become,” he said.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see Guarantano see the field against the Gators this weekend. But Jones said he’ll continue to evaluate and watch those two continue to compete moving forward this week.
A Normal Schedule (Hopefully)
For the first time all season, Tennessee is starting a regular work week. No more short preparation or odd start times, and Butch Jones is thankful for a return to the normal routine.
“We look forward to a regular weekly schedule,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve had a normal week of preparation. I don’t like to say creatures of habit…that’s when complacency sets in…we welcome getting into a full weekly schedule for our players.”
But there are still a few questions about the site of Saturday’s game. Due to Hurricane Irma, there have been rumors of Saturday’s game potentially being moved to a neutral site.
Jones fully expects to play Florida on Saturday in Gainesville, as expected.
“We fully anticipate playing the game in Gainesville. John Currie is on top of things. He’s handling all the communication. We’re just getting ready to prepare a football team, and John’s going to handle all the other logistics.”